Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas

This year I've had a quiet, karate-less Christmas vacation. Sigh..

There's been coughing, and sick people in my home since the holidays started, including myself, so I've been sitting, resting, watching t.v., or playing computer. My body has rested so much that it's starting to complain about it. Aches and pains are suddenly creeping up on me. I can't wait until I can feel ready to get up and exercise/train it a little.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I've been quiet..

Yes.. truly, this chatterbox has been quiet for a long while.

Parenting, and household chores take up the great portion of my energy.

I'm still preparing for my future possible Black Belt test in Kyokushin. I'm not only working on the various physical requirements, and techniques that I need to do, but also working on my inner self. Some of these efforts just don't fit well on a blog. In fact, they might even be quite mundane, and boring, but for me they mean everything. We are talking about those age-old questions "Who am I?", "What is my purpose?", "Who do I want to be?" As I work towards achieving a Shodan in Kyokushin Karate, these questions pop right back to the forefront.

I know what I want to believe, and I know what I want to achieve, at least I have that solidity within me. Everything else seems to be up in the air at this point in time.

I'm sure that it is my age, and experiences which contributes to my questions, and searching. When I was younger the world seemed so black and white, and understandable. I had everything figured out. Now that I near a half century on this planet, not everything fits as well into the baskets that I had mentally designed. Only I can find my answers, I've noticed that other people's solutions just don't fit in with what I have within me.

Black Belt? I thought that I knew what it meant. I dedicated more than one posting on this weblog with what I thought it meant. I have to ask myself if these thoughts are truly what I believe, or have I evolved into a different understanding of it. Either way I am walking on the path towards that rank again.

Right now, I focus on my training.. on improving even the simplest of the basics, because I know that this is the necessary key to exploring advanced movements. Perhaps, in time, with more sweat equity, the inner answers will reveal themselves to me, by then I might just be old enough to be a grandmother.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Broke two wooden rolling pins..

And the list of household items that have been damaged by accident in my house by me has grown to include two rolling pins.

How did I manage to break them, you may ask?

I wanted to surprise my Sensei with a special Birthday cake from his country of origin. It has many layers of pastry lined with a caramel sauce.

It looks like this:

Since I don't really know how to make this cake, and was guessing at each step, I think that I made the dough too stiff. It was quite a difficult chore to try to roll it out thinly, and as I pressed down on the rolling pins... Well.. it seems that I have much more power in my arms, and core muscles than these things were designed to take, and I popped the handles of the pins. The first rolling pin that I broke, I assumed that it was just old, and worn out, but the second rolling pin was brand new, and it broke just as quickly... sigh...

One person suggested that perhaps I may want to purchase a Marble rolling pin. It might be able to take what I can give... but I'm thinking that the structural flaw is in the design of the handles.. not in the material of the pin itself.

Wow.. it was really tough to cut that cake into pieces too! There were many students, and I needed to cut each cake into 16 pieces to have enough for everyone. I didn't realize that it would crumb all over the place, and how much downwards pressure that I'd have to put onto the knife to get through all of the layers. I totally relied on my Karate training for that moment. The cake lost the fight, and was eaten happily by the whole dojo.

I now have quite sore shoulder muscles from all of that extra training *whew*

So I wish a very Happy Birthday to my Sensei, and I promise to train harder so that next year I win the fight with the cake more quickly. :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Diet, and eating are two different things entirely

Well.. my resolve to not eat any more junk food lasted for 3 months. I fought through each day withholding myself from eating anything that wasn't considered "healthy food". I ate popcorn instead of chips, and cherries instead of chocolate. I boycotted all soda pop. Results: I maintained the same weight regardless of the effort. I became depressed, emotional, and moody, and I found out that I am an emotional eater. The more stress/negative feelings that I feel the more that I "hunger" to eat, and if you eat too many calories, it doesn't matter if it's healthy food or not, you will gain weight.

My 2 week vacation made it near impossible to find any healthy food as we traveled. I don't know why each restaurant mainly offers food that is high in fat, sugar, and salt ( even their salads are like this) I just decided to relax, enjoy my holiday, and not worry about calories until I returned home.

Yes, this choice meant that my weight went up, up, and away. But I took hold of it all, and have now lost 12 pounds. I'm working my way back down to a healthy level but to do it in a kind way to my body I have to lose the pounds gently.

In a way, I'm grateful for this experience because I'm now aware for sure that I'm an emotional eater. I've always suspected it, but never saw it as loudly as I saw during those 3 months where I avoided junk food through will power.

For the past month I have been trying to find alternatives to coping with strong negative emotions. Lately, I've been going to the garage, and breaking wood into small pieces. When we moved into our home, there was a stack of various wood in the rafters, and well.. with my husband's permission, I've pulled out that wood, and have smashed it with my feet into firewood. Some of the pieces that are more stubborn and won't break nicely face destruction by hand saw. It's working for now.. but I know that I'm going to run out of wood to break.

I'm thinking that perhaps it would be a good idea to think up alternatives. Somehow I have to change my pattern, and stop eating to cope with emotions/stress. Any suggestions/ websites with advice would be appreciated.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Vacation 2010

I headed over to Florida for 2 weeks to celebrate my 25th Wedding Anniversary.

It was such an enjoyable time. I was able to enjoy so many things, visit so many places, and see such beauty! My favorite stop, although it is hard to pick from all of the wonderful spots, was Chattanooga, Tennessee. We visited Rock City:

We rode the Incline Railway that went up Lookout Mountain:

Also, we stayed at the Delta Queen Hotel:

Yes, this hotel is a River Boat. It was quite a different experience to stay the night on a historic Boat like this. I have to tell you that the Breakfast that they served the next day was delectable! I couldn't have enough of their quiche, and those blueberry biscuits were to die for!! One thing that I will warn you about is that there is no parking available close to the hotel. My husband, and I had to park on a side street about 3 blocks distance away, and walk through the adjacent Park carrying our luggage. (Luckily we didn't bring a large amount of luggage, and the ones that we had with us were on rollers.) We also were lucky enough to visit Ruby Falls ( an underground waterfall), and the Aquarium downtown. ( Sorry.. no pictures available.)

We did enjoy visiting Universal Studios, Seaworld, Hummock Park, Tampa Riverwalk, Tampa Lowes Zoo, etc but to write down everything that we did would take far too much of my day.

Karate-wize: I was quite limited with opportunities to train. We'd wake up, get in the car, drive to our next destination, and tourist around.

However, due to the kindness of some Instructors, I was able to get a few moments of training. I just popped up on the doorstep of a Dojo in Chattanooga, and shyly asked if I could take in a class, and was quickly welcomed. The instructor, Sensei Trevor, founded, and taught the Martial Art of Five Animal Kenpo. It was very interesting to be able to learn about the philosophy of this Art, and to work with my partners on various self-defense movements. Sensei Trevor, and his students were very gracious, and friendly. I had a great time with them.

Later, in Tampa, Florida, I was blessed with having a couple of hours training with Sensei Tim. We knew of each other through postings on a Martial Art Forum, but have never met face to face. He was kind enough to set up a Dojo in his car port with mats, and to introduce me to the Shudo Kan Martial Art Style which originates from Okinawa from Sensei Kanken Toyama. Sensei Toyama was a student of Sensei Anko Itosu ( the same teacher of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi) I was happy to recognize the various terms being used for the stances, and strikes. There was such a family resemblance to the Shotokan, and Kyokushin Karate that I am familiar with, but at the same time, I could see how different Shudokan is from them. We shared the same Pinan ( Heian) kata, but I could see how my Kyokushin training was creating a different flow to my movements. Sensei Tim took great care to make sure that I didn't overheat in the Florida temperature. I was very grateful because I wasn't used to the high constant humidity. I felt sweat pouring in places on me that I've never felt before.

It was a moment that I have been waiting for when I met my good friend, and mentor Sensei Paul. He welcomed me into his home, and shared so much with me that I felt that I was drowning in an ocean of wisdom, and knowledge. I knew that I could only grasp at what was possible for me to learn, and walk away with that with hopes of growing these seeds into fruition in the future. He introduced me to concepts in Tai Chi, and reinforced my Karate knowledge. You can watch him execute a movement with full fluidity, and grace, and it looks easy... but then, when you attempt to do it.. um.. well.. it's not that easy. I have found that this is the case each time that I meet such wonderful Martial Artists. I smile to myself, and encourage myself silently reminding me that it takes years of training, and practice to achieve what they have, and that is why we hold them in such high esteem.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

June is on it's way..

Ah.. warmer weather means that I can train in my backyard, but the constant rain has made the grass turn into swamp. So.. I haven't had a chance to get out there and accumulate some extra weapons training that I am reluctant to do in my house after hitting walls, and furniture with my Bo.

By the time all is cooperating with outside training the mosquitoes will be out in number. It just hasn't been a good year for training in the yard.

I've limited my personal training indoors working on improving the height of my front kick, and my conditioning. I've learned that I can do a total of 36 push ups or 52 sit ups during commercial breaks. I've learned that I can strike my shins without stopping for the duration of a whole one hour t.v. show without any discomfort. My arms are starting to get tired before my shins start to complain. Honestly, I need to set up a sandbag/ hanging bag to be able to up the level.

I've been exploring my basic Kata, and becoming more aware of the links between them through repetitive expression.

I've reread "Shotokan's Secrets" more than once, looking at the concept of pushing on the inside of the knee of your opponent as compared to the outside of the knee. The Sanchin Stance would seem to place your feet in a better position to execute this than the Zenkutsu stance, or Kiba Dachi stance.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

One step at a time..

Karate training may have it's big moments, like when you achieve that technique that you have been working so hard at for so long, and it just flows out of you so smoothly, but I've noticed that 98 percent of Karate training is the constant simple basic build up of day after day effort.

It is the sweat that is poured out from you, the repetition of each movement to improve at every chance, and the painful lessons that teach you what you need to know to be able to use your skill.

Isn't daily life similar? Is it not in the constant cleaning, eating, sleeping, etc that we maintain good health? I've learned that lesson ever since I have been laid off. My home has finally reached a balanced equilibrium since I've been maintaining it on a everyday basis. My kids are coming home telling me that their friends have been envying the homemade baking, soups, and other snacks that I've been sending for their lunches. :-)

I feel good about it all. I'm loving each second of this life.

I embrace the training that I do in Karate. I know that one day.. not far away.. my body will not respond as well as I will want it to do. Will Karate still be important to me then? I do hope that I will have the right attitude, and perseverance to see value in training in my senior years. Yes my kicks may not be as high.. but they will still be there. Already there are parts of me that are complaining a bit after training.. it's not just that tired soreness from a good workout. The backs of my ankles, my knees, the small of my back, and my right wrist hum with a quiet ache. Arthritis is a known side effect of my skin condition.. so it could be that it is starting to develop within me. It is my thought that the exercise that I do thanks to karate will help slow down the build up of arthritis.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Perspective means everything

This month I have learned that how I view various challenges, and happenings will create, and affect what happens within that moment. If I see it in a negative light, I can't help but respond to it in a defensive manner. This revelation opened up an important growth as I train for my Kyokushin Black Belt test.

I realized that I could feel overwhelmed, engulfed, and even afraid of what the future will bring by seeing each challenge as insurmountable. The more that I value the Rank of Black Belt the more I understand how much I need to invest myself mentally, physically, and spiritually into this goal.

It has been 5 years since I earned my Shodan in Shotokan in front of a Master, almost 9 years since I started training in Karate, and I still feel that I have so much more to learn. However, last Friday I learned that it is all one's perspective... to the newer white belts of a Dojo, I could appear to them as already accomplished, and knowledgeable. I remember when I was a beginning student, and how the Brown belts were so quick to respond to Sensei's commands. I was in awe, and even frightened of having to learn so many things.

I believe the key to handling difficult challenges is to view them with the proper perspective. Not too hard, not too soft.. with a balance where each aspect is resolved, and solidified, before tackling the next step. This reminds me of self-defense where you must handle each issue as it appears, and not get caught up in your imaginations, and fears, but be aware of all things that occur, and react appropriately.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I'm not as young as I used to be..

It took 3 weeks of being gentle on my body to allow my left leg to finally start moving normally again.

I've been studying about healing and aging, and learned some interesting things:

a) A study has shown that older athletes can recover from intense training as quickly as their younger counterparts. Their muscles may weaken from having less nerve fibers to stimulate them, but the muscle tissue can work, and recover as quickly as before.
Check out "Recovery times do not decrease with age"

b) According to a book on strength training, the greatest loss of muscle as we age is in the high-threshold fast motor units. Women see a more dramatic difference than men in this as they start off with less of this type of muscle tissue. Inactivity will speed up this process.

If you are interested in this information, you can check out the book here.

So.. the balance is to ask one's body to perform, and exercise, but at the same time be aware of the fact that sudden fast harsh movements ( Such as Jumping Double front kicks) must be done with caution.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Did something to my left leg on Friday

All I was attempting to do was lift my left leg a little higher for a jumping front kick, and something snapped on the inside of my back left thigh. I was still capable of moving without pain and go into stance, but if I attempted to lift my left knee higher than half a foot my leg would hurt, and refuse to go.

Confused, and curious, I tested to see how far, and in what direction my left leg would allow movement. Sideways was fine, but forwards, and up.. no way.

So.. I have allowed my body to rest, and heal for the past 3 days, and will continue to do so for another 2 days, to see if it was just a slight pull of an inner leg muscle that needs to recuperate.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

One month later

One month later, 10 pounds lighter, and training hard to learn the skills, and knowledge necessary for my upcoming rank.

One life decision that I have made, only due to the knowledge that I have the will power, and ability to do this choice successfully, is to cut out all junk food from my diet.

I have slowly improved my diet over the past 6 years, and now I feel ready, and willing to stop eating those empty calories that have had me in their grip for so long. I'm talking about chocolate, chips, pop, etc. I know that I have been addicted to them for so long.. using them as a crutch to bring happiness to my day after feeling overwhelmed by the stress, and demands around me. Now, I feel mentally strong enough to walk away from these temptations. I know that they do nothing for me.

Another life style change for the better, this I am sure. It will only enhance my good health.. but first I have to survive the withdrawal period. I've already warned my family, and friends that I have made this decision, and that the next 2 weeks may be difficult for me as my body adjusts to less sugar, fat, and salt in my diet. I'll work towards controlling my emotions, and reactions using all of the mental Martial Arts training that I've accumulated so far.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Mom makes great mashed potatoes

Well.. I found out from my children that I make extremely lovely, fluffy mashed potatoes. Ha ha ha.. It could be because I like to work on my hammerfist technique as I bring the mashing tool down on the potatoes. It's a very similar movement, and I thought that the resistance of the vegetables would help me to improve. It's nice to know that there is a positive result of that kind of Karate training.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Karate Goals for 2010

In 2009 my goals were:

"I want to focus on improving my inner mental condition.

In Kihon, I want to learn to see each technique as worthy of it's own existence, and focus on the quality of that movement alone rather than thinking of the past, or future.

In Kata, I want to learn to see beyond each movement, and live outside of the technique seeing applications, and meaning.

In Kumite, I want to learn to anticipate my opponent's attacks."

In my opinion it is more difficult to measure mental improvement. With Physical efforts, you can notice that your punch is faster, or your technique is stronger, but how do you measure if you have expanded your mental abilities.

I can tell you that I learned to see each technique separately because I trained to the point where each punch was it's own effort. I was too tired to think of the past, nor the future. All of my energy went towards completing that punch, or kick.

I have started on the path of seeing beyond the techniques and seeing the applications, but I have also learned that this is a lifelong endeavor that cannot be achieved in only one year.

In Kumite, I have noticed that I am capable of anticipating some of my opponent's attacks, but I am not always successful. However I have again started on a lifelong challenge.

In 2010, my goals are towards integrating all of my training into my daily life.

I want to find balance between stress, and rest. I want to train hard, deplete myself, and then allow myself to recover, and strengthen.

I want to implement a daily conditioning routine that I can carry into my old age that blends with the challenges, and demands of my day.

I want to learn to eat properly to support the two goals listed above. This Christmas it took me only 2 weeks to gain 10 pounds. No real training, and triple the amount of rich foods have contributed to this, and I can only put the responsibility on myself for allowing this to happen. I know that I will lose this weight, but for that weight loss to be healthy I have to keep a balanced effort. I'm thinking of going back to keeping a journal of my eating so that I can even out the amount of calories that I take in, and make sure that I have enough fruits and vegetables.